“Most people say bacon does them in, but for me it was salami,” says lifestyle and DIY food blogger, Sean Timberlake, recalling the Tuscan trip that turned the two-decade pescatarian on to meat. “In one bite it was over.”
Three bloggers are hoping to hear a similar exclamation from Sean tomorrow at Hotel Vitale, where they will compete in a Top Chef-style sandwich making contest using Columbus Salame cured meats. The judging panel of local media, including Jonathan Kauffman from Tasting Table, will award a prize of $500 to the blogger-competitor with the tastiest salami creation. Though a Columbus Salame spread will be at their disposal, bloggers will be tasked with collecting additional ingredients to enhance their dishes.
“They’ll run across the street to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and collect one ‘secret ingredient’. Then they’ll have 20 minutes to make their dish,” says Sean. “There’s gonna be panini presses and other equipment, so hopefully they will get as creative as they like.”
Before the competitive madness ensues, bloggers will get to chomp on four salami-starring appetizers that Sean created (Rebecca Jean Catering will produce them for the event). Sean says his recipes are meant to showcase salami’s versatility. “Presenting salami in a variety of ways will help fuel inspiration for the bloggers,” says Sean. “It’s presented crispy and soft, cooked and raw…so I’m hoping to show that there is a lot of opportunity that can come from this single ingredient.”
Sean’s appetizers include Endive Cups with Waldorf Filling and Crispy Salame, in which the salami’s fat is rendered to achieve a more bacon-like taste and texture, and a totally non-traditional Quickie Salame Bao, in which the bao is made from instant biscuits. Sean says this recipe was inspired by a fellow food blogger. “Jaden of Steamy Kitchen wrote about this trick. Her Chinese mother does it and [Jaden] poo-pooed the idea. But oh my god it totally works.”
We hope Sean’s salami appetizers will work for the blogger-contestants tomorrow! Just incase they’re still stumped on what to make, we’ve compiled some additional ideas inspired by Top Chef:
A simple, stellar sandwich: If you let the components of a dish speak for themselves, they have to be perfectly balanced. Chef Dave Martin’s Salami and Gouda on a Sun-Dried Tomato Roll marries the floral tang of honey mustard and sweet red peppers with the salty salami and creamy, sharp Gouda — a combo good enough for the Top Chef cookbook.
Salami surprise: Toss tradition to the curb and incorporate salami into a dish where it has never belonged. Like the filling in Sean’s bao, tossed in a Passover favorite like Matzo Brei on Top Chef, or mixed into a sweet dish, like Rebecca Jean Catering’s very own salami brittle made with Columbus Salame salami and pistachios.
Surprising substitutions: There’s a whole universe of recipes that call for using cured meats other than salami. For this competition, sub salami for chef Michael Isabella’s “Now Famous” pepperoni sauce, or perhaps put your own spin on Top Chef Master winner and San Francisco’s own Chris Cosentino’s “Pork and Beans” recipe.